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PRESS RELEASE

July 11, 2006

Cathy Schroeder
(850) 245-0413

Commissioner Winn Announces FCAT Reading Scores Challenge Winner

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Education Commissioner John L. Winn today announced Somerset Academy Charter Middle School in Miami-Dade County as the FCAT Reading Scores Challenge winner. The challenge is part of the Shoot for the Stars: A Record Breaking Year for Middle Schools initiative launched in January to encourage academic achievement for middle school students in reading.

"I am honored to recognize the students, parents and educators of Somerset Academy for their achievement," said Commissioner Winn. "They have nearly tripled the percentage of students reading at or above grade level. This is a remarkable accomplishment."

The competition included every middle school in Florida. Schools must have increased both their percentage of students reading at or above grade level and the percentage of students making learning gains compared to last year. A total of 567 middle schools qualified with Somerset Academy showing the biggest improvement. This past school year, Somerset Academy increased the percent of students reading at or above grade level to 79 percent, up from 28 percent during the 2005-06 school year. Also, 86 percent of students made a year's worth of progress in a year's time (percent of students making learning gains in reading), up from 63 percent in 2005-06. Somerset Academy also improved their school grade from a "D" in 2005 to an "A" this year.

Somerset Academy will receive $10,000 for their school media center, courtesy of Bealls Department Stores, Inc. The other qualifying middle schools will receive certificates from Governor Jeb Bush and Commissioner Winn, Just Read, Florida! posters and flags commemorating their achievement.

Commissioner Winn presented the award during the Just Read, Florida! Fifth Annual Leadership Conference, which is being held through tomorrow. Sponsored by the Florida Education Foundation and the Florida Lottery, the conference features presentations and break-out sessions by state and national leaders, reading experts and celebrities.

Just Read, Florida! makes reading a priority in Florida's public schools and among the community groups and volunteer organizations that support them. It is based on the latest reading research, which includes emphasis on phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension. For more information about Just Read, Florida! and the Shoot for the Stars: A Record Breaking Year for Middle Schools initiative visit www.justreadflorida.com.